Parking in Bucharest can be looked upon in several ways: a) with a grin because it's so absurd (and seeing really is believing in many cases); b) angrily because it is so damn selfish or c) sadly because it's so absurd and so damn selfish. Let's take the first option to begin with.

The Bucharestean blog sums it up perfectly:

shapeimage_3(Photo source) 'Forget Ionesco, when it comes to traffic and parking, Bucharest is your absurd theatre stage. The number of cars in Bucharest has gone way over the parking capacity of the city, with only a couple of underground parking lots and very little parking space for old communist apartment buildings. As if this was not enough, the Bucharest Driver (TM) makes it all worse. If someone wants to go to a restaurant or a particular shop, you can bet he/she will park the car right in front of that establishment’s door. There isn’t any parking space? So what? There is a car already parked? No problem, the Bucharest Driver (TM) will park his/her car in the street. Thinking of the other cars passing down the street? "To hell with'em, they can pass by me, let the City Hall build more parking places!" And if, when he/she returns to the car, he finds an illegal parking bill, hell will come down on earth. Everyone, from the president, to the cleaning lady will be guilty, but not our Bucharest Driver (TM).

But there is more to it. A few multi storey parking lots have been built in the last years, but they have the inconvenience of not being located right in front of the post office or bank our Bucharest Driver needs to go to. In an attempt to settle things down, the City Hall assigned many parking lots to a private company, Dalli, and you will see their staff, dressed in blue, charging a fee (1.50 lei per hour). But, as always in Romania, there is (even) more to it. Parking places not assigned to any company were quickly "taken over" by smart ad hoc antrepreneurs. You will see them near București Nord railway station, on Splaiul Independenței, near University Square or on various streets where parking is possible and the demand is high. They will show you where to park, even tell you how much you can reverse, a bit more, yes, straight on, OK, stop! And then they will expect (actually ask for) money. Illegal? Yes, it is.

Note: contrary to what anyone but a Romanian might think, the car in the picture above did not get there by accident. Nay, it was parked there. I can see a different car in that spot next to every morning and it is gone in the evening.'

Read more on what happens if you don't tip a parking attendant, even in a public parking space, HERE.

IMG_3480-e1349345325799(Photo source) Bucharest Life is pretty angry over a very navel-obsessed individual who parked in front of a school on a snowy day, forcing children and parents alike to walk around it, ie. in the road. Jos palaria to the author for not losing his rag. See also HERE for a gob-smacking photo gallery of astonishingly badly-parked cars. Some really beat all reckoning. Oh, and HERE is a video, too...

To me, it is neither amusing nor anger-inducing. I find it sad. Really, really sad. Why? A close friend of mine said something the other day that struck a chord - and with a hammer. "The way people park in Bucharest is absolutely symbolic of the Bucharestean mentality." And I am sorry to say that she is right. 100%.

The arrogance of people, the egotistical thoughtlessness, the lack of concern for others, the absence of empathy much less civic responsibility is visible wherever one goes, not just in the way people talk and relate to each other from the politicians way up there on Mount Olympus right down to the average Ion Popescu on the street, but FLAGRANT in the way people park.

Who cares if they block the pavement and pedestrians have to walk on the road, whether they are elderly or children and in summer, unprotected from blazing sun? Who cares if one can't reverse out of one's own drive because some imbecile has parked right across the exit? Who cares? Who cares? Who cares? Certainly not the drivers of Bucharest, that's for sure. Places to go, people to see - sod everyone else! It is a mentality perfectly illustrated by coach Dumitru (Titi) Dumitriu (the owner of the Miclescu villa), the Dinamo coach, when asked why he didn't take care of the house he had bought: "ASA VREA MUSCHIUL MEU"... so very charming...

49(Photo: Sarah In Romania) What's amazing to me is that, in a population so intent on making money these days, no one has seen this as a real earner. If every single illegally parked car were to be towed away and released only on the payment of, say, 500 RON (it should be far more seeing the blatant abuse), just imagine how much money the state would make in a DAY!!! I have NEVER seen a car towed away due to illegal parking. I have NEVER even seen a traffic warden. Don't they exist? And if not, why the hell not? And traffic police meant to stop this happening (and do so very effectively inother countries)? Where are they? Frankly, I have no idea. Perhaps they are in Brasov or Iasi but I have never seen them in Bucharest. Everywhere else, traffic police are nasties. There is no discussion, no arguing, no negotiation. If you're not allowed to park there, you are simply not allowed. End of. In Bucharest, there is NO enforcement of the law, so no one pays the slightest attention to it. Ditto the highway code...

Public transport in Bucharest, in my 12-year experience, is good. Okay, it's crowded at those rush-hour times, needs improving on oh, so many levels, but it's getting better and better. I simply cannot understand people who drive from Pta Romana to Pta Victoriei instead of using their own two feet or a metrou - or even a bus, for goodness sake. People moan and moan incessantly about the traffic problems and yet still take their cars when they could just as easily jump on a tram. Actually, parking space availability really has nothing to do with anything. It's an excuse. This is simply about behaviour. Check out THIS where nesimtirea has no limits - someone parked on the steps of Muzeului de Istorie. My thanks to Mara for sending it to me.

70(Photo: Sarah In Romania: Cars parked on the pavement, behind the barrier put there, supposedly, to stop them doing so) The solution is NOT to destroy beautiful old houses to replace them with carparks, nor to build roads and express ways that bring traffic straight through the heart of a capital. Of course it isn't. It is to invest in and increase the public transport system yet further, encourage people to USE it and to TOW AWAY cars illegally and abusively parked, making people PAY for breaking the law - as is the case everywhere else. Mothers with buggies, people in wheelchairs, children and the elderly should NOT have to use the road because the pavements today are for cars rather than them. One should NOT have to soil clothes squeezing between a car bumper and a fence. And one should NOT have to walk about with a pad and pen in one's bag to leave rude messages on car windscreens that read "ASTA ESTE NESIMTIRE CURATA!!!" I understand that one bends back car windscreen wipers on particularly brainlessly parked vehicles to make a point. In my opinion, a brick would get the message across even better... Or perhaps a potato in the odd 72exhaust pipe? Or sugar in the petrol tank? Actually, there is a myriad of options and, frankly, I'd encourage ALL of them - maybe then, people would think twice. Or think once, even.

Everything seems to be degenerating. The language, the patrimony that has so far miraculously escaped demolition at the hands of either Ceausescu or Oprescu, education, health.... And parking. Indeed, it is sad... Sad because no one thinks of others. No one respects anyone else, for the large majority. It is a massive national disregard for fellow compatriots. It is 'fiecare pentru el' and to hell with everyone else on just about every single level. Civility? What do we care for civility? Our politicians are not civil so why should we be? It is abuse. It is mitocanesc. It is arrogance. And it is seen as 'normal' these days. And THAT is the saddest thing of all....